Deadliest disasters in history

As the dead toll of the Coronavirus continues to rise all around the world, a question arrives. How many deaths can we expect to see when all of this is over?

Recently the US Government predicted a best case scenario of 200.000 American fatalities and a worst case of 2.000.000. Comparing this to the almost 3.000 deaths of 9/11 and 2.400 of Pearl Harbor, even compared to the 400.000 american fatalities during the Second World War this shapes up to be one of the deadliest disasters in American history.

Predicting the total global fatalities of this crisis is impossible as we are still in the early faces of the crisis and many experts also predict a global second wave of deaths.

However we can look at other deadly crisis throughout history and observe how they played out, and why they became so deadly.

Mongol conquest 1206-1368

At its height the Mongol Empire spanned from modern day Korea to Poland. Covering an incredible 36.000.000 Square kilometers or more than 16% of earth’s surface.

This incredible feat of conquest was completed in under 100 years, thanks to the innovate and deadly Mongol warfare tactics.

It goes without saying, that this conquest was not peaceful. However often castles and citadels would simply open their gates and pay tribute, the moment they spotted the Mongol hordes approaching.

This was the result of the reputation that the Mongols had built for themselves. Every Lord and King had heard the tales of the rape, slaughter and destruction the Mongols inflicted upon their enemies.

Genghis Khan is supposed to have said: “The greatest happiness is to vanquish your enemies, to chase them before you, to rob them of their wealth, to see those dear to them bathed in tears, to clasp to your bosom their wives and daughters”. This serves as a explanation in itself to why the Mongol conquests of Eurasia was so deadly.

Lowest death toll estimate: 30.000.000

Highest death toll estimate: 57.000.000

European conquest of the Americas

This deadly event in human history shares a terrible connection to the crisis we face today. That is because the vast majority of the natives in the Americas didn’t die from the direct European conquest in wars and battles. However they died from the diseases that the European conquers carried with them.

The European lifestyle of the middle ages had included a much closer contact with domesticated animals and the diseases that these animals carried. This gave the Europeans a immune system much more capable of combating germs and diseases.

This way of life stood in contrast to that of the native americans. So upon contact, large disease outbreaks of smallpox, typhus and influenza began spreading rapidly among the natives, with deadly effect. Some estimate that around 90% of the native american population died due to disease, in the years following the early contact with Europeans.

However due to the lack of credible sources at the time, it is difficult to estimate the exact effects of European diseases upon the natives. However the rapid Spanish conquest of the massive empires of the Aztecs and Incas, serves as evidence of the devastating effects of these diseases.

Lowest death toll estimate: 8.400.000

Highest death toll estimate: 138.000.000

Second World War

Wars have always been some of the deadliest events in human history. Since they often broad both deaths on the battlefield and among civilians. However the Second World War took this to extreme new heights.

The massive technological and administrative advancements of the early 20th century was used to murder on a industrial scale. The Japanese conquest of China, The Holocaust and Operation Barbarossa are all example of this colossal new deadliness of warfare.

The global scale of the conflict didn’t help either, from France to China the war ravaged, there was no escaping the bloodshed.

Some countries suffered more than others though. The Soviet Union is estimated to have lost around 30.000.000 its citizens during the war, and China around 25.000.000. However these were both countries with relatively large populations.

Poland on the other hand lost only somewhere around 6.000.000 people during the war, however this is estimated to be around 20% of the countries prewar population.

In just 6 years earth lost around 3% of its population due to this conflict, something never seen before throughout human history. A testament to the deadliness of the war.

Lowest death toll estimate: 60.000.000

Highest death toll estimate: 118.000.000

10 Historical Movies to Watch in Quarantine

Is there anything better than a good long and emerging historical movie with popcorn? Certantly not!

This is the perfect time to enjoy one of these masterpieces digging into our past.

From Ancient Rome to the Second World War, gripling stories are told on the silver screen

Here are a few of the very best ones you can watch or rewatch in your quarantine.

10. Lawrence of Arabia

This classic movie tells the tale of legendary british intelligence officer T.E Lawrence better known as “Lawrence of Arabia” and his epic quest to stage a Arabic revolt against the Turkish Ottoman Empire during The Great War.

Year: 1962

Length: 216 min

Imdb: 8,3

9. Hacksaw Ridge

This WW2 era flick tells the tale of young medical student Desmond T. Doss and his experience as a US soldier during the Pacific war. Doss refused to carry a gun, vowing instead to save his fellow wounded soldiers. During his stay at Iowa Jima he saved 75 lives.

Year: 2016

Length: 131 min

Imdb: 8.1

8. The Kings Speech

This Oscar winning flick tells the story of British wartime monarch George the 6th, and his unexpected rise to head of the British Empire. The movie follows the kings struggle to combat his stuttering and deliver a speech to the British people in the darkest days of the Second World War.

Year: 2010

Length: 119 min

Imdb: 8

7. Master And Commander

This movie tells the fictional story of a Royal Navy vessel during the Napoleonic Wars and its mission to hunt down a French warship. Though the story is made up the movie gives a great glimpse of the life aboard a warship of the era.

Year: 2003

Length: 138 min

Imdb: 7.4

6. Das Boot

This movie tells the other side of the Second World War, from the German perspective. The setting of the film is life in a German submarine deep under the sea and we get to experience the stress, terror and boredom this creates for the crew.

Year: 1981

Length: 149 min

Imdb: 8.3

5. Braveheart

This epic movie tells the story of Scottish national hero William Wallace. A knight who led a mass revolt against English overlordship in the early 14th century. A great medieval epic with torture, war and amazing speeches.

Year: 1995

Length: 178 min

Imdb: 8.3

4. Gladiator

Gladiator tells the tale of fictional Roman general Maximus Decimus Meridius and his fall to gladiator. The movie includes real historical Roman emperors like Marcus Aurelius and Commodus. Not a true story but a great ancient movie flick with amazing gladiator battles.

Year: 2000

Length: 155 min

Imdb: 8.5

3. Downfall

Downfall tells the story of the very last and desperate days of the Third Reich. We follow life in a destroyed and besieged Berlin as the Soviet army draws closer to the “Fuhrer bunker”. We also witness the Fuhrer’s last desperate and vain attempts to fight to the end.

Year: 2004

Length: 155 min

Imdb: 8,2

2. Troy

Troy is the movie adaption of the legendary epic by Greek author Homer. The story follows Hector, Agamemnon, Achilles and all the other great characters of the epic during the assault on the ancient city of Troy.

Year: 2004

Length: 163 min

Imdb: 7.2

1. 12 Years a Slave

This tragic Oscar winning movie tells the tale of northern free black man Solomon Northrup, who is kidnapped and sold into slavery while on a music tour in Washington. The film follows his 12 year fight to return to freedom.

Year: 2013

Length: 134 min

Imdb: 8,1

Her Majesty’s first speech

On 5th April 2020 from Windsor Castle Queen Elizabeth II addressed Her speech to the people of the UK, to the Commonwealth and to the whole world urging people to stay disciplined and resolve.

Apart from Her anual Christmas broadcasts She rearly addresses the nation. In fact She only did it four times troughout Her 68 year reign excluding Her Sunday night speech.  Her Majesty appeared on the screens in 1991 during the first Gulf war, in 1997 when Princess Diana died, in 2002 at the death of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother and in 2012 marking Her 60th anniversary as sovereign.
But did you know that Her Majesty adressed Her first speech to the public when She was only 14?

In October, 1940 Britain was on the edge of defeat to the Germans. Prime minister Winston Churchill wanted the young princess to make Her own contribution to the war effort by giving Her first radio broadcast. He asked the King, George VI to let His daugther make Her speech. The PM’s goal was to send comfort to the children who had been evacuated overseas. But there was a hidden motive.
Britain was in the need of a powerful ally against Nazi Germany so Churchill wanted to lure the United States of America into war.

According to Ingrid Seward form the Majesty Magazine the young princess was very nervous and went through a long prepearing process prior to Her speech. She practiced breathing and practiced the script in front of the Royal Family several times.

It was broadcasted from one of the rooms in Windsor Castle, from that moment the Castle became the symbol of a safe home. Princess Elizabeth was joined by Her sister, Margaret. This was the first time that the public had heard the princess’ voice.
Princess Elizabeth: „ All of us children who are still at home think continouly of our friends and relations who have gone overseas. Who have travelled thousands of miles to find a war time home and a kindly welcome in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States of America. […].
My sister is by my side and we are both going to say good night to you. Come on Margaret.”
Princess Margaret: „Good night children!”
Princess Elizabeth: „Good night and good luck to you all!”

It was an instant success and She was able to convince the American public whether they should join the war or not.

If you haven’t seen Her Majesty’s latest speech you can watch it here:

As She said, „We will meet again!”

How Isaac Newton Used His Quarantine Productively

In 1665 when the great plague of London hit the english capital chaos erupted. It was a form of bubonic plague that ended up killing 75-100.000 citizens of the city. Almost a quarter of all its inhabitants.

Even though it would take around 200 year for scientist to realise what exactly had hit the city, Europe was not unfamiliar with large plague outbreaks. Therefor procedures like the ones used today to combat the Coronavirus were already widely used. Things like social distancings.

London before the great fire of London 1666

One of the 17th century englishmen affected by this, was none other than Sir Isaac Newton. However at that point Newton was not yet a Sir. He was a relatively ordinary student at Trinity College, Cambridge.

Newton was sent home by his university. Like all well off people like Newton that meant fleeing to the countryside and the young college student went to the family estate Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire.

Newton trived without his professors guidance and controle. His year away from Trinity is today referred to as his “years of wonders”. Newton himself called it the most intellectually productive period of his life.

Portrait of Sir Isaac Newton

First he began with the mathematics that he had already worked on in school, and developed part of of the foundation for modern algebra. However he quickly began mathematically experimenting himself.

He acquired prisms and observed light going through them. At that point no one knew what caused the rainbow like colors it created. Newton was fascinated by this mystery. He decided to use his new won time solving this mystery.

He even bore a hole in his shutters and observed the light flowing through. From here his theory of optics arose, which laid the foundation for a great part of modern physics.

A page of Isaac Newton’s notes on light and color, written during his qarantine in 1665-66

Outside his window stood an apple three. Need i say more?

However the widely told story that Newton was hit in the head with an apple and then all of a sudden understood gravity and motion is not entirely true. However the tree did play a role in his theory, and this was the period were Newton’s theory of gravity was developed. Head injury or not.

You might not be an Sir Isaac Newton. However you and Newton probably have something in common. You both would probably prefer to stay at your university, school or job. Sticking to your regular schedule. However nothing is so bad that something good can´t come out of it.

If you wish to be a bit more like Newton you might be able to create or understand something you wouldn’t have been able to in your normal circumstances. You might just solve a mystery like Newton, when your are unleashed from your daily rituals.